We wanted to go on a special vacation and after some research we decided on a Viking ocean cruise (Sea, December 2019). We had done the Grand European river cruise with them a few years ago and loved it. At the end of this trip we were still impressed with the Viking business model. “Small” ship cruising has many advantages over the larger ships and I hope to cover some of them in the following.
In our departing airport, a ticket agent saw we were with Viking and took it upon herself to walk us over to the self-help kiosk and check us in. When we landed, we were greeted by a Viking agent and escorted to the luggage area, then to our bus and taken to the ship. Getting on the ship was the easiest ever experienced. The process was very simple and didn't take any time at all. It was a simple matter of showing your passport, checking that against their records and off we went. Needless to say, the embarkation process was fabulous. Getting off at the end was just as easy.
Because this was a special event, we splurged and got a junior penthouse suite. What a room! We've never experienced something like this on a cruise ship. There was more than enough room to spread out and the veranda was large enough to fit 6 easily. The décor was modern with clean lines and great fabrics. The bed was comfortable, there were two TV's, a mini bar kept stuff cold, closet space was more than ample for a 10 night cruise, and there was more storage than we could use. Luggage fit under the bed. There was a safe. The bathroom was larger than the guest bath in our home. One thing we noticed through the cruise is that the mirrors didn’t fog after showering, a small but welcome perk. The room was all you could ask for.
Before leaving the ship on the last day we looked inside a penthouse veranda room and deluxe veranda room. Both are roomy and would suffice but the layout of the deluxe, with the closet entrance where it is next to one side of the bed, is kind of screwy. It’s not a deal breaker by any means but be aware that you have to work around it. Either of these rooms would be more than acceptable for a vacation.
The room stewards kept everything clean and met all of our requests. In fact, the entire staff is trained well by Viking and it shows. They are very courteous and professional in their demeanor.
On our first night in the restaurant we requested a waiter recommended to us by friends who had done this cruise a month before us. Singh was an absolute joy to meet. Even though there is no assigned seating we were able to request to be seated in his area each night and we were not disappointed. For example, due to a medical condition I cannot eat much and must eat slowly. Singh understood this and would put off ordering courses until I was ready. The food always came out correctly cooked and there was no evidence it sat under a heat lamp. I don’t believe this can be done on a large ship. The combination of a great waiter and a small ship made this possible and added to the experience.
We found the food on this cruise to be very good to excellent. Food on our last three ocean cruises, on larger ships, was OK. Viking is way ahead in this category. Their menu is varied, food is fresh, and there is always something for everybody from vegans to paleos. The wine list is well thought out with good vintages and a good selection. I saw only one wine that was wildly overpriced. The free wines served at lunch or dinner were pretty good and changed daily. Neither of us drinks much so we did not get the drink upgrade and cannot comment on that. We did order bottles of wine on some nights and found them reasonably priced.
We went to Manfredi’s two nights and Chef’s table one night. All of the meals were very good; a step up from the regular restaurant. The ribeye at Manfredi’s was excellent. Have the waffles at Mansen’s at least one morning. It’s at the front of the ship in a nice quiet area on deck 7.
The sit-down restaurants are closed for lunch so most people head to the buffet. It is not a buffet found on large ships. On Viking, hot foods are hot and salad ingredients are fresh. Once again, all people can find something they like to eat and it doesn’t disappoint. As an aside, don’t miss the gelato bar for dessert. We had a burger at the pool bar one day and it was very good. I also liked the onion rings.
I’m convinced larger ships require their staff to cover more ground and be responsible for too much, whether it’s cleaning, food preparation, or providing service. This leads to mistakes. I didn’t see this on our Viking ship. Things were as they were supposed to be and as I remember from cruises 20 years ago.
The ship design was pleasing to the eye and full of little nooks where you could pick up a book, curl up and relax. Most were very quiet and undisturbed. I never felt crowded in the public spaces, even in the buffet. The carpeting and fabrics used throughout the ship added to the relaxation feel. Look for Odin’s crows (research the tale) as they are hidden everywhere.
There is no casino, no art sales, and no children. The lack of these help add to the idea that this is comfort cruising for those who want to be away from hustle and bustle for a while.
Internet service was free and you could log-on most times. It’s wasn’t ultra-fast but a person could still stay connected and browse.
My wife enjoyed the spa area and had three treatments. She felt the staff were well trained and did good work.
The provided shore excursions were good enough for an overview of where you were but for further exploring you need to take a tour that costs extra. This is such a personal matter I won’t take much time here except to say you should do research prior to sailing and decide what interests you so you can select a tour that will meet your needs. The tours fill up fast so be prepared to sign up for them when registration opens. We found the cost of the optional tours to be in line with what was offered.
Entertainment is in the form of lectures, various music soloists or groups, and the revue shows. The revues are not as “big stage” as you will find on larger ships but they filled the need for an after dinner sit-down. As I’ve always said, if you want to go to a Broadway show, go to Broadway. I found the lectures engaging with good information and the guitar, violin and piano music provided well played background music and entertainment. I’m not a pop music lover but the revue shows were entertaining and liked by the attendees.
There were no sea days on this cruise so we were busy exploring off ship each day. We were able to schedule our excursions so that we had time in the morning to sit on the veranda, have coffee, and then go to the restaurant for a nice breakfast. This is another reason to schedule shore excursions as early before your cruise as you can. A little bit of planning will afford you the opportunity to laze around instead of being rushed. A side note is that you can meet with any of the included tours and get on “standby.” We did this once and were allowed to join the group. If an optional tour is booked you can get on a standby list and guest services will let you know the night before if you can get on.
I like small ships. We tendered once. The food, ship comfort, and uncrowded silence were standouts. Service was excellent. If you are looking for an adult cruise consider Viking. I believe the cost versus value is good and comparable to the cruise lines that charge you for everything. We are already figuring out our next trip with Viking.
Spacious with more than enough storage. Modern décor with clean lines. Comfortable bed. Bathroom was large. Veranda could fit 6 easily. Nice couch and chairs. Stewards kept it spotless.
A bit of a hike for those not in shape. Some had to drop out along the way.
A general tour of the area around the port.
A drive through the local area.View All undefined undefined Reviews
A drive through some of Barbados.View All undefined undefined Reviews
Took a boat out to where dolphins and whales were coasting. Saw a calf with mother, a pod, and two whales flip their tales and go under.
A drive around some of the islandView All undefined undefined Reviews
A short drive through the Dutch side as the French were on strike and we didn't go to that side. Too much traffic.